The Atheist Church

In the Fellowship, although a smaller organisation, promoting humanist and humanitarian values through our work as Celebrants is integral to what we do. The question in my own mind, as always, is how can we reach out to a larger audience?

I read with interest Esther Addley’s article in the Guardian on Saturday14th September “No rest for the wicked: Athiest churches go forth and multiply.”

As a Humanist a similar concept has always been in the back of my mind but actually getting something up and running in Scotland always seemed a long way off. It follows that I am heartened by what is happening south of the border, spearheaded by Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans.

There is much merit in Stuart Balkham’s statement “It’s naïve to deny that there’s a lot of good that comes out of organised religion and I think helping in the community is another thing that Sunday Assemblies should be aspiring to unashamedly copy.”

The idea of premises being open to the public in a local community as a humanist and humanitarian centre is something that one day I’d personally like to see. Perhaps the development of the Athiest church might help achieve something like this north of the border sooner rather than later?

Our observations:

Duncan R: With the Atheist church there is an element of creating a community feeling in what they are doing I simply like the idea that there could be a humanist and humanitarian centre within a community where human values are shared. In some ways it’s like belonging to a club, whether it’s a drama club an art club, sports club or for singing. In that regard there’s currently the sing in the city choir which is incredibly popular.

With such a centre, focal point if you like, there would never be a requirement for membership or anything like that it would simply be a place for people to see what’s going on in the humanist and humanitarian world, our version, and socialize as they see fit within their own community with absolutely no need, and no agenda to be there for any sort of religious or anti religious purpose.

Graham D: When I speak to people about why the go to church – you would be surprised how often I do, the stock answer is that they enjoy the feeling of community and the support they get from meeting the same people, who are normally local, on a weekly basis or if they are older, with the addition of regular coffee mornings. A lot of them also enjoy the community singing.

What I am rarely told is that they go to commune with a higher being! Religion seems to be the excuse rather than the reason.